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Pittsburgh moving to sell properties to promote development

Bob Bauder
| Tuesday, July 12, 2016, 6:51 p.m.

Pittsburgh is poised to sell parking lots and vacant buildings in the Strip District, Hazelwood, Downtown and Uptown to developers and will use the proceeds to repair aging facilities, including police and fire stations, an official said Tuesday.

Pittsburgh City Council introduced legislation permitting the sale of eight properties to the city's Urban Redevelopment Authority for $1 apiece.

The legislation requires 80 percent of each sale the URA makes to be deposited into a facilities maintenance fund to pay for improvements. The URA would retain 20 percent to cover expenses, said Kevin Acklin, URA chairman and Mayor Bill Peduto's chief of staff.

“Some might ask why wouldn't the city just sell these properties themselves,” he said. “We don't really have the expertise here to work on development like the URA does. This is what the URA is built to do.”

He said the properties would revert to tax rolls under private ownership and generate yearly tax revenue in addition to initial cash from sales.

The URA, he said, has influence over what type of project happens on a property.

The eight properties include the city's former vehicle tow pound, a vehicle repair garage, a vacant building and a parking lot previously occupied by the Office of Municipal Investigations and a former training building for Emergency Medical Services, all in the Strip District.

“The best use of that land isn't as a vacant tow pound that is no longer used,” Peduto said. “I think a lot of different prospective developers would see it as an opportunity for either commercial, residential or office.”

Pittsburgh officials hope to sell fleet vehicle lots Downtown and Uptown and Department of Public Works offices in Uptown.

A former Carnegie Library in Hazelwood, which the city has designated as a historic landmark, is also up for sale.

Acklin said the building would be preserved and its sale to the URA would permit the authority to help Hazelwood residents find the best use for the building.

He said the city would seek an alternative location for the repair shop and other spaces to park city vehicles.

The URA, which is expected to approve acquiring the properties during a public meeting Thursday, would advertise for proposals from developers. Acklin said requests for proposals would likely go out within six months.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312 or

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